Who's afraid of predictions?
Not me, though I'm sure I should be.
So, here are my top political and media predictions for 2012.
1. Mitt Romney will win the primaries, fending off serious, last-second challenges from Ron Paul and Rick Santorum. Even Rick Perry may find himself surging in the polls during the final few days.
But Republicans want a winner in 2012, and they sense that Mitt Romney is that person, even if the Governor hasn't captured their hearts. It's a little bit of a Howard Dean/John Kerry replay - a race that made liberals turn away from a more ideologically-pure candidate and embrace an experienced Senator with a strong military record.
(Check out the latest Iowa polls, in which Gingrich has cratered and Romney is holding onto the top spot - with Paul not far behind.)
Which leads me to a second political prediction:
2. Massachusetts will become the central issue in the 2012 campaign. Not to be parochial (OK, maybe a little), I believe that this state will prove to be Romney's greatest hurdle and greatest asset.
Right now, Massachusetts health care features prominently in Republican attacks on Romney, but if the former Governor can nab the nomination, his Massachusetts experience could prove to be a tremendous strength. ("I know how to get both sides of the aisle to work together; heck, I was governor of Massachusetts!")
Wouldn't it be ironic if Massachusetts propelled Mitt Romney to the presidency? I wouldn't rule it out.
And finally... a non-political prediction...
1. No, I don't know if Katie Couric's new talk show will soar (all I ask is no paternity tests...). And I have no idea whether Anderson Cooper's daytime chatfest will continue to hang in there (could we make Kathy Griffin a co-host?). And I can't begin to guess whether 2012 will be the year that The Today Show introduces maximum blood-alcohol levels for hosts (take your head out of the scorpion bowl, Kathie Lee).
But I do predict that unconventional media - and unconventional media jobs - will continue to proliferate this year. In the past month, we've already seen Ben Smith of the powerful website Politico get poached by Buzzfeed (where?) and one-time CBS news political director Steve Chaggaris move to Yahoo!
As media becomes increasingly splintered, new players will get into the game. Which adds to the excitement - and the competition.
Here's to 2012!
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